Max Morris: The Power-Hitting Pioneer

Max Morris, originally born as Maurice Morris Jr., came into the world on December 4, 1894, in the city of Youngstown, Ohio. He was the firstborn of Maurice Morris Sr. and Lucy Clanton Morris. As the eldest of four siblings, Max's early life was marked by the joys of family and the allure of sports.

When Max was just seven years old, the Morris family packed up their belongings and moved to the bustling city of Cleveland, Ohio. This move would have a significant impact on young Max's life, setting the stage for his remarkable journey in the world of baseball.

Max's love affair with baseball began at the tender age of eight. From the moment he picked up a ball and glove, he felt a natural inclination towards pitching. Although he enjoyed the game as a whole, he had a particular fondness for being on the pitcher's mound. Interestingly, Max's early coaches weren't fans of his swinging style, which led to an unconventional uppercutting swing. They consistently encouraged him to focus on hitting the ball on the ground.

As Max progressed through his formative years, he attended Cleveland Central High School from 1910 to 1913. During this time, he showcased his athletic prowess by participating in both baseball and football. His senior year on the baseball field saw him hit .239, an achievement that included an impressive 12 home runs in 176 at-bats. However, he also encountered challenges, striking out 55 times. Scouts recognized his true potential as a pitcher, where he demonstrated remarkable skill and precision.

In 1913, Max's talents caught the attention of his hometown team, the Cleveland Foresters, who drafted him as their first pick in the FABL draft. The year 1914 marked his debut in the FABL, where he showcased his versatility as both a starting pitcher and an outfielder. He managed a 4-9 record with a stellar 2.29 ERA in his pitching outings, while also making his mark in the outfield with 17 starts and a .324 batting average.

As the seasons progressed, Max's performance continued to shine. He garnered attention for his pitching prowess, achieving records of 15-17 with a 2.90 ERA in 1915, followed by impressive records of 24-15, 2.80 in '16, 21-17, 3.17 ERA in '17, and 18-13, 2.57 ERA in '18. Despite his excellence on the mound, his hitting skills also blossomed, prompting the team's management to transition him into an everyday hitter.

The period from 1915 to 1919 showcased Max's growth as a hitter. He progressively increased his home run count, hitting 8 in 1915 and an impressive 13 in 1919. This marked his final season in his first stint with the Cleveland Foresters.

In 1919, a pivotal moment occurred in Max's career. A salary dispute with the Foresters led to a trade that would change the trajectory of his career. On October 19, 1919, Max was traded to the St. Louis Pioneers in exchange for several players and cash. This move would prove fortuitous, as Max found himself leading the Pioneers to victory in the Federal Association pennant in 1920.

Max's impact in St. Louis was undeniable. His hitting abilities soared, with 1921 marking a true turning point in his career. He clinched the coveted Triple Crown with an outstanding .411 batting average, 53 home runs, and 149 RBIs. His remarkable stats included 32 doubles and 13 triples, showcasing his prowess as a complete hitter. With an OPS+ of 247 and an astounding WAR of 13.3, Max's legacy was cemented.

Over the course of 1921 to 1930, Max Morris achieved unparalleled greatness. His consecutive 50+ home run seasons became legendary, with 59 in 1922, 60 in '23, 57 in '25, and 50 in '29, a feat that remains unmatched to this day. His consistent excellence earned him six consecutive Whitney Awards as the Association's Most Valuable Player.

In 1930, Max's journey took him to the New York Gothams, but he continued to excel. Although his time with the Gothams was relatively brief, he contributed to their Federal Association pennant win in 1931. Despite the team's eventual loss in the World Championship Series, Max's impact was undeniable.

As his career progressed, Max returned to his roots in Cleveland in 1932. His on-field contributions remained significant, with the season seeing him hit 44 home runs and achieve a .334 average. The Foresters, however, fell short in their title pursuit.

At the age of 39, Max demonstrated his leadership and determination by leading the Foresters to another Continental Association pennant. Although his hitting slowed a bit, he remained a force to be reckoned with, hitting .320 and leading the league in RBIs. The World Championship Series proved to be his stage, as he hit .419 with three homers, securing the Foresters' first WCS title.

In the offseason of 1936-37, Max embarked on a new chapter as he moved to the Detroit Dynamos. This transition also marked his transition to a part-time player and manager. His playing days were winding down, but he managed to make an impact, taking the field 89 times in 1937. By the time he retired, Max had amassed an impressive 711 home runs, a record that stood unparalleled.

Max's retirement from both playing and managing baseball opened doors to a new realm of service. In 1938, he was elected to the U.S. Congress, a role he embraced for a decade. His dedication to public service was recognized alongside his baseball achievements, as he became one of the initial inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

As the years went by, Max continued his legacy in Congress until declining health prompted him to step back from politics in 1948. Throughout his life, Max Morris remained an icon, leaving an indelible mark on both the baseball diamond and the halls of Congress. His name would forever be associated with power hitting, record-setting achievements, and an unwavering commitment to excellence in all his endeavors.

He was known as "Big Jeff" to his players and called the "Edison of Baseball" by no less an authority than William W. Whitney himself, but to Philadelphia baseball fans he was always "Boss Edgerton."

Jefferson Yates Edgerton was born in Lehigton, Pennsylvania on January 5, 1840. Edgerton came from humble beginnings - his father was a blacksmith. The senior Edgerton named his son for Thomas Jefferson because the Edgerton clan had originally come from Virginia and Jeff's grandfather had been a clerk for Mr. Jefferson during the famous man's term as vice-president.

Luckily for Jeff, his father was also a proponent of his only son (Jeff did have a sister) becoming something "better than a blacksmith" and he was determined to see that the youngster get a quality education.

Edgerton worked as a conductor on a Philadelphia horse car to support his parents when his father fell ill with tuberculosis while Jeff was just a teen. He still managed to enroll in Liberty College and planned to become a lawyer. Those plans were derailed when the Civil War broke out. Edgerton, just 21 years old, received a referral from his former boss on the horse car line and was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Pennsylvania volunteers. It was while serving in the Union Army that he met the man who would change the course of his life: William Whitney.

Whitney, a West Point-educated Army engineer, worked with Edgerton while the latter was serving as an adjutant between Union General George McClellan and the Army Corps of Engineers working on the fortifications of Washington, D.C. Whitney was impressed with Edgerton and soon had finagled a transfer that made the young man his aide-de-camp. By war's end the two men had created a lifelong bond - and they had also both become enamored of the game of base ball, which had become a popular pastime with Union soldiers in and around the national capital during the war.

When the war ended in 1865, Whitney returned to Illinois to found his produce empire and Edgerton returned to Philadelphia where he started a business of his own - making baseballs. With several different models, the Edgerton Sporting Goods company quickly became the top maker of balls in the northeast. It was Edgerton's continued work on "perfecting" the baseball and other innovations that included a protective mask for the catcher that caused Whitney to eventually refer to his former aide as the "Edison of Baseball."

In the late 1860s Edgerton put together a traveling team, often playing himself, despite a bad leg he had earned falling into a trench while in the Army. With a career as a player unlikely in the extreme, Edgerton settled comfortably into the role he would fill for the rest of his long life: that of team owner.

When Whitney came calling in 1875 with his idea of a professional base ball league, Edgerton was enthusiastic and quickly agreed to field a team in Philadelphia. Thus was the Centennial club was born. The Centennials would eventually be renamed the Keystone Club, Edgerton's team joined Whitney's Chicago Chiefs as the only original club to make it through the turbulent and often chaotic years of the early Century League and emerge unscathed as a charter member of the Federally Aligned Baseball Leagues.

Unsurprisingly, when the FABL launched, the official provider of baseballs to the organization was the Edgerton Sporting Goods company - a distinction that continues to this day.

Edgerton's Philadelphia clubs were particularly strong in the early days of the Century League, winning the first league title in 1876 and two others in 1880 and 1882. A decade-long drought ended with the club winning the Federal Association pennant in 1892 - the last year before the start of the World Championship Series. Those early clubs were built around one of the game's biggest early stars in 1B Zebulon Banks. Big Zeb and Big Jeff didn't always see eye-to-eye as both tended to be stubborn. This ultimately resulted in Banks leaving the Keystones, but the two men later reconciled and Banks returned to the organization as a front-office employee in 1917, before his final retirement after the 1920 season.

The 20th century was not kind to Edgerton. After finishing second in 1899, the Keystones fell on hard times, finishing in the second division for nine straight seasons and eighteen of nineteen, finishing 2nd in 1909 and 3rd in 1919. That 1919 season was followed by five straight last-place finishes. The only real success for the Keystones in this era was the construction of the "new" Broad Street Park, a lovely concrete and steel ballpark that replaced the dilapidated wooden structure on the same site in 1910.

Edgerton's last full season as owner was 1927 - and what a season it was. The Keystones rose from a fourth-place finish the season before to win the pennant and then the World Championship over the Brooklyn Kings. Edgerton, frail and thin at 87 years old, sat in his box right beside the home dugout as the Keystones won game five, and the series, 6-0 to win their first FABL title.

Edgerton never married. When asked about it he said that he was "far too busy to provide the kind of attention and care a spouse deserves." As a lifelong bachelor with no children, for many years there was some question as to who would take over the Keystones and the Edgerton Sporting Goods business. Edgerton answered this in 1915 when he made his sister's son Edward Meachum the sole heir to both the ball club and the sporting goods business.

Jefferson Edgerton fell ill with respiratory issues in the spring of 1928 and passed away on May 1st at the age of 88. The club would wear a black stripe on their right sleeves in his memory for the rest of the 1928 season. Meachum also announced that the club would rename the Broad Street Ballpark as Edgerton Field in his uncle's honor.

Link Trease was one of the first great stars of the old Century League. A versatile player who starred at five different positions, Trease was one of a pair of brothers who left an indelible stamp on the game, albeit in different ways. 

Born Lynwood Killeen Trease to Irish-born immigrant parents in Torrington, Connecticut on November 11, 1850, Trease began playing base ball at an early age. By the time he was 20 he had earned a strong reputation as one of the best players in New England. Playing for a variety of clubs throughout Connecticut and neighboring New York and Massachusetts, Trease was one of the first players signed by Century League founder and Chicago Chiefs owner William Whitney in the early spring of 1876. Signed to play centerfield for the Chiefs, the 25-year-old Trease quickly established himself as the best player on the team. In 1876 he led the Chiefs in batting (.294), home runs (4), stolen bases (12) and walks (14) while driving home the second-most runs on the team. 

Zebulon Banks was baseball's first superstar; although that term would not be used for quite some time, Banks checked off all the boxes we today would use to measure superstardom. He was the elite player of his era, which covered the entire 19th century portion of professional baseball history, was well-known throughout the country and set a slew of records that the greats of the future, playing a different style of baseball (and with longer seasons) would eventually surpass. He was born in Des Moines, Iowa on February 19th, 1856, made his debut as a member of the Philadelphia Centennials (today's Keystones) at the age of 20 in 1876 and played until 1898. He earned the nickname "Hawkeye" both for his Iowan-roots and for his discerning eye at the plate, where in his 23 seasons as a player he failed to hit over .300 just three times and finished with a career .328 average.

The father of the Century League, William Washington Whitney, was born April 14, 1840 in Boone County, Illinois. The son of a farmer, Whitney was highly intelligent and driven and this led him to successfully obtaining a nomination and ultimately, admission to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Whitney was pragmatic and went to West Point with a goal of becoming an engineer - the Army was merely a means to an end for him.